She goes toe to toe (and sometimes blow to blow) with Taraji P. Henson on Empire, but in reality, actress Grace Byers couldn’t be more different than her TV character Anika Lyon.
Instead of noisy bluster, the actress, 32, prefers the hard-fought quiet confidence she has after overcoming childhood bullying. Growing up with deaf parents, Byers, who was raised in the Cayman Islands, recalls early classmate questions like, “‘Why does your mom sound like that? Why does she talk with her hands? Why can’t she hear?’” That lead to taunting, Byers says. “Kids lashed out. That was a very difficult time and it was hard for me to assimilate to the fact that I was coming from a deaf culture household.”
“I remember being very angry with my mother and wanting her to not sign so largely in public or when she spoke, not make so much noise because she sounded differently from everybody else.”